Biologics are available in three formats: a do-it-yourself kit in which the drug has to be mixed and the syringe loaded manually, a prefilled syringe, and a penlike auto-injector. All three are injected under the skin, usually in an area with some fat, such as the stomach, the back of the upper arms, or the legs.
5 tips for easier injecting
- Wash your hands and swab the injection site with alcohol. (Allow the alcohol to dry to reduce the sting when the needle goes in.)
- Use a new injection site each time to minimize irritation.
- Ice the site for a few minutes before and after the shot to prevent pain and tenderness.
- After injecting, gently massage the area.
- With prefilled syringes that need to be refrigerated, remove the shot 30 minutes before you will use it; letting it come to room temperature lessens the sting.
One of the most common complications of biologics is the skin irritation known as injection-site reactions, which Kavlick says can result from the alcohol used to swab the site, preservatives in the medication, or the needle itself. These are itchy, red welts on the skin that surround the injection site and usually disappear in a few days to a week. They tend to occur early on in treatment and then stopbut every patients experience is different. “Theres really no way to predict or prevent them,” says Kavlick.
Like anything else, injecting yourself with biologics takes some getting used to. If the first few weeks seem daunting, just remember that you will soon be as much of an expert as Karen.